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John Nelson Bell papers

Identifier: MSS-100

Scope and Contents

This collection is divided into three series: account books, which contains Dr. Bell’s financial dealings, including payment from patients and money paid out for supplies; daybooks, which gives names of patients, reason for doctor's visit and charge for services; PSC.113 contains two picture postcards, one of Dr. Bell and one of Dr. Bell and his daughter.


  • 1887-1922

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections.

Biographical Note

Dr. John Nelson Bell practiced medicine in the Delaware County community of New Burlington for forty years. Born at Morgantown, Virginia on April 21, 1858, the son of Henry and Louise (Swisher) Bell, Dr. Bell attended school at Fairmont, West Virginia. (After the Civil War, the section of Virginia in which Dr. Bell was born and grew up became part of what is now West Virginia.)

Dr. Bell began teaching school at age sixteen. For ten years, he taught and supplemented his education by taking classes at a normal school. He became interested in the practice of medicine and in 1884, entered Starling Medical College at Columbus, Ohio. He left there after two years and entered the Medical College of Ohio, graduating from that institution in the spring of 1888. The previous fall, Dr. Bell had heard that Dr. Samuel Jump, the practicing physician in Perry Township, Delaware County, Indiana, had received a presidential appointment as the postmaster of Selma and would be moving to Liberty Township, leaving a medical vacancy in Perry Township. So after graduation, Dr. Bell came to Delaware County, where he began his practice at New Burlington.

That same fall, on November 28, 1888, he married Carrie L. Will of Perry Township, the daughter of John and Mary (Keesling) Will. Dr. Bell and his wife had three daughters, Letha B, Mary F. and Enid A. Mary F. was born with a defective heart and she died at the age of five.

Along with practicing medicine, Dr. Bell eventually owned a 125 acre farm in Perry Township, on which the doctor became especially interested in dairying and swine breeding. A Republican, Dr. Bell was also a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in New Burlington and active in the Freemasons, serving four times as worshipful master of Whitney Lodge No. 229. Dr. Bell died September 1, 1928.


1.4 Cubic Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1: John Nelson Bell account books, 1888-1922

Series 2: John Nelson Bell daybooks and other notes, 1888-1922

Series 3: John Nelson Bell photographic postcards, 1911, undated

Custodial History

This collection was received by Archives and Special Collections as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of the entirety of the John Nelson Bell papers and photographs are available electronically in the Ball State University Digital Media Repository:

Processing Information

Collection processing revised 2007/07/17 by M. Read. EAD finding aid created 2012/10/05 by Julie Hausknecht. EAD finding aid revised 2012/10/09 by Bethany Fiechter.

John Nelson Bell papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Stoeckel Archives of Local History Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA